And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All Jerusalem.—Limited by what follows, and meaning the most important part of the population.
The princes—i.e., the nobles, e.g., the grandees of the court, some of the priests (Ezekiel 1:1), and the heads of the clans.
The mighty men of valour.—This is probably right. Thenius and Bähr prefer to understand the men of property and the artisans, as in 2Kings 15:20.
All the craftsmen and smiths.—The former were workers in wood, stone, and metal, i.e., carpenters, masons, and smiths. (Comp. Genesis 4:22.) The “smiths” (properly, “they who shut”) answer to what we should call locksmiths. They were makers of bolts and bars for doors and gates (Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 29:2). It is obvious that by deporting “the craftsmen and smiths” the king of Babylon made further outbreaks impossible (comp. 1Samuel 13:19.) Kimchi’s explanation of “smiths” is a curiosity of exegesis. He makes of them “learned persons, who shut other people’s mouths, and propose riddles which nobody else can guess.” Hitzig and Thenius derive the word (masgēr) from mas, “levy,” and gēr, “alien,” so that it would originally mean “statute labourers,” “Canaanites compelled to work for the king;” and afterwards, as here, “manual labourers” in general. But such a compound term in Hebrew would be very surprising.
The poorest sort.—Those who had neither property nor handicraft. (Comp. Jeremiah 39:10.)2 Kings 24:14. He carried away all Jerusalem — That is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem; not simply all, but the best and most considerable part, as the following words explain and restrain it. Even ten thousand captives — Which are more particularly reckoned up 2 Kings 24:16, where there are seven thousand mighty men, and a thousand smiths; and those mentioned 2 Kings 24:15 make up the other two thousand. Craftsmen and smiths — Who might furnish them with new arms, and thereby give him fresh trouble.
(2) the "mighty men of valor" or "men of might," i. e., the soldier class, who were 7,000. And
(3) craftsmen or artisans, who numbered 1,000. The word here translated "craftsmen" denotes artisans in stone, wood, or metal, and thus includes our "masons, carpenters, and smiths." The word translated "smiths" means strictly "lock-smiths."
The object of carrying off these persons was twofold:
(1) it deprived the conquered city of those artisans who were of most service in war; and
(2) it gave the conqueror a number of valuable assistants in the construction of his buildings and other great works.
The Assyrian monarchs frequently record their removal of the skilled artisans from a conquered country. The population of the ancient city has been calculated, from its area, at 15,000. The remnant left was therefore about 5000 or 6,000.All Jerusalem, i.e. the inhabitants of Jerusalem; not simply all, but the best and most considerable part, as the following words explain and restrain it.
Ten thousand captives; which are more particularly reckoned up, 2 Kings 24:16, where there are seven thousand mighty men, and a thousand smiths; and those mentioned 2 Kings 24:15 make up the other two thousand.
All the craftsmen and smiths; which might furnish them with new arms, and thereby give him fresh trouble.
and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives; which was the number of them in the whole; the particulars are after delivered:
and all the craftsmen and smiths; besides the nobles and the soldiers, he took all the artificers that exercised any handicraft trade or business; carpenters and blacksmiths, as some interpret these two words; so that there were none left to make arms for them; the last word may be rendered "enclosers", and are by some interpreted of enclosers of jewels in metals, as gold and silver:
none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land; who were left to till it, and to dress the vines; see 2 Kings 25:12.And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. he carried away all Jerusalem] The policy of Nebuchadnezzar was to remove out of the way all those who might be able to organize and plan a revolt when he and his army had departed. Hence all the people of rank, of wealth, and of skill as handicraftsmen are deported, and only the poorest folk left, who had neither knowledge nor means for doing more than work of drudgery. The total number of captives was 10,000. In verse 16 the numbers of some classes are specified, the ‘men of might’ were 7000, and the craftsmen 1000, which leaves 2000 for the royal household and their retainers, and the princes and the others who are spoken of in the general phrase as ‘strong and apt for war’. Such men it would have been dangerous to leave behind. In this captivity the prophet Ezekiel was included. See Ezekiel 1:3.Verse 14. - And he carried away all Jerusalem. The expression has to be limited by what follows. "All Jerusalem" means all that was important in the population of Jerusalem all the upper classes, the "princes" and "nobles," all the men trained to the use of arms, and all the skilled craftsmen and artisans of the city. The poor and weak and unskilled were left. The number deported, according to our author, was either ten or eleven thousand. The whole population of the ancient city has been calculated from its area at fifteen thousand. The largest estimate of the population of the modern city is seventeen thousand. And all the princes. The sarim, or "princes," are not males of the blood royal, but the nobles, or upper classes of Jerusalem (comp. Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 26:10-16, etc.). And all the mighty men of valor - i.e. "all the trained troops" (Ewald); not "all the men of wealth," as Bahr renders - even ten thousand captives. As the soldiers are reckoned below (ver. 16) at seven thousand, and the craftsmen at one thousand, the upper-class captives would seem to have been two thousand; unless, indeed, the "craftsmen" are additional to the ten thousand, in which Case the upper-class captives would have numbered three thousand, and the prisoners have amounted altogether to eleven thousand. And all the craftsmen and smiths. Ewald understands "the military workmen and siege engineers" to be intended ('History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 263, note 9); but the term חָרָשׁin Hebrew includes all workers in stone, metal, or wood (Genesis 4:22; Isaiah 44:12; 1 Kings 7:14), and there is nothing to limit it here to military craftsmen. It was an Oriental practice to weaken a state by the deportation of all the stronger elements of its population. None remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. These words must be taken with some latitude. There are still "princes" in Jerusalem under Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38:4, 25, 27), and courtiers of rank (Jeremiah 38:7), and "captains of forces" (Jeremiah 40:7), and "men of war" (Jeremiah 52:7). But the bulk of the inhabitants now left behind in Jerusalem were poor and of small account. 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Chronicles 36:10). Jehoiachin, יהויכין or יויכין (Ezekiel 1:2), i.e., he whom Jehovah fortifies, called יכניהוּ in 1 Chronicles 3:16-17, and Jeremiah 27:20; Jeremiah 28:4, etc., and כּניהוּ in Jeremiah 22:24, Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 37:1, probably according to the popular twisting and contraction of the name Jehoiachin, was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne (the eight years of the Chronicles are a slip of the pen), and reigned three months, or, according to the more precise statement of the Chronicles, three months and ten days, in the spirit of his father. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 19:5-7) describes him not only as a young lion, who learned to prey and devoured men, like Jehoahaz, but also affirms of him that he knew their (the deceased men's) widows, i.e., ravished them, and destroyed their cities-that is to say, he did not confine his deeds of violence to individuals, but extended them to all that was left behind by those whom he had murdered, viz., to their families and possessions; and nothing is affirmed in Jeremiah 22:24 and Jeremiah 22:28 respecting his character at variance with this. His mother Nehushta was a daughter of Elnathan, a ruler of the people, or prince, from Jerusalem (Jeremiah 26:22; Jeremiah 36:12, Jeremiah 36:25).
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